Did you know that if f S. 77 becomes law in Vermont, anyone of us could find out only afterwards that a beloved relative or friend had committed suicide with assistance from a doctor? S. 77 instructs doctors to recommend that a patient requesting assisted suicide tell family and friends, but it does not require that the patient follow the recommendation.
As bad as finding out that a relative had committed suicide would be suspecting but being unable to find out. Remember that the law requires no witnesses at the time the patient takes the overdose, so one would never know if one’s relative had been pressured into taking it or even murdered. Furthermore, the death certificate conceals the cause of death, reporting it as “natural” and due to the patient’s underlying disease, so no one would be required to tell a relative or friend anything about the death, no matter how much he or she begged to know.
We can imagine nothing more hurtful to families. This kind of hurt lasts a lifetime, and it would be difficult not to pass it on to the next generation. We have heard from a man who is unbelievably hurt and angry because his father died in this way in Oregon.
The article linked below is by a man who found out his mother had been euthanized in Belgium without his knowledge and despite her history of clinical depression. The article notes that, while euthanasia was instituted in Belgium only for the relief of intractable, pain it is now more often used to alleviate the pain of mental illness. In his mother’s case, the doctor and the doctor alone made the judgment that she was competent to tell him she “did not want to live”. The family was not consulted about her prior history of mental illness or invited to say goodbye to her (http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/how_my_mother_died).
There are two issues presented in the article
The first is the expansion of euthanasia in Belgium to include patients with mental illness. We are already seeing evidence of such a spread in Oregon. An example: depression is a treatable mental illness characterized and diagnosed by suicidal ideation (http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-diagnosis), but both Oregon experts and members of the Health and Welfare Committee here in Vermont asserted he during thearings on S. 77 that a patient’s suffering from depression should not exclude him or her from getting suicide assistance. S 77 does not even require a mental health evaluation but leaves it up to the judgment of two doctors who are both supporters of assisted suicide.
The second is the fact that relatives or friends don’t have to be notified that their loved one is planning to commit suicide so that they can offer care as an alternative or even say goodbye. They don’t have to be told anything at all. In Belgium there is at least transparency after the suicide. The author’s mother was euthanized without the knowledge of her children, but that fact was not concealed from them after the death.
Before you sit back and let this bill become law, imagine how you would feel if you found out that your mother had been assisted in suicide without your knowledge. How would you feel if it were your eighteen year old son or daughter? The author asks, “How is it possible that people can be euthanized in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted?” Will agonized children, parents and friends be asking a similar question about assisted suicide in Vermont? The answer is yes, unless we stop this bill.
Please call your senators. Please email every senator. Do it now. We only have until Tuesday. Call the statehouse at 802 828 2228 to leave a message for your senators. Ask them to oppose assisted suicide, and ask them to call you back to let you know that they will. Emails and personal phone numbers are listed at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/districts.cfm?Body=S&Session=2014.